Alfred the Great is a 1969 historical drama film that depicts the life and struggles of the 9th-century Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great, who defended his kingdom of Wessex from the invading Danes. The film stars David Hemmings as Alfred, Michael York as his rival Guthrum, Prunella Ransome as his wife Ealhswith, and Ian McKellen as his friend and advisor Athelstan. The film was directed by Clive Donner and written by James R. Webb and Ken Taylor.

The film was shot in various locations in County Galway, which were transformed to resemble the landscape and architecture of Wessex in the 870s AD. Some of the filming locations include:

Castlehackett: This is a 13th-century Norman castle near Tuam, which was used as the setting for Alfred’s court and castle. The castle was also used for some of the battle scenes, where Alfred and his men fought against the Danes.

– Kilchreest: This is a village near Loughrea, which was used as the location for the monastery where Alfred took refuge after his defeat at Chippenham. The village has a medieval church and a round tower, which were used to create the impression of a 9th-century monastic site.

– Ross Lake: This is a lake near Moycullen, which was used as the backdrop for some of the scenes where Alfred and his men sailed on boats to escape or attack the Danes. The lake has a scenic view of the Connemara mountains, which added to the atmosphere of the film.

– Knockma: This is a hill near Belclare, which was used as the site for one of the most impressive features of the film: a 200-foot-long hill figure of a white horse, carved into the grass to symbolize Alfred’s victory over the Danes. The hill figure was inspired by the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire, England, which is believed to date back to the Iron Age or earlier.

The film was praised for its historical accuracy and authenticity, as well as its cinematography and performances. However, it was also criticized for its slow pace and lack of emotional impact. The film was not a commercial success, and it has been largely forgotten by modern audiences. However, it remains a fascinating example of how County Galway was transformed into Wessex for this epic historical drama.



Ross Lake

Knockma Hill




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